We consume a fair amount of bread in my house, and yet I feel I am invariably left with stale end slices no one will eat. It would be unthinkable to throw them out, so I freeze them instead until I have enough to make bread pudding in the winter or this chunky tomato soup in the summer. “Panade” is the French word for any peasant-style stew or soup made substantial by the addition of bread (“pain” and “panade” share the same root). This one is a rustic preparation of chopped tomatoes cooked in broth with onions and sage. I serve it for dinner in the summer; if there is a slight chill in the night air, it’s especially restorative. This recipe can only sing as beautifully as the tomatoes you put in it, so use the tastiest field tomatoes possible, in season and ripe, preferably from the farmers’ market. Bonus points if you can mix and match different varieties. I garnish this soup with fresh tarragon, an herb with long, thin leaves whose subtly aniseed-like notes lift the overall flavor by a few notches.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, minced garlic, sage, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often to avoid coloring, until the onion has softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, with their juices and seeds, and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Cut one third of the bread into slices about 1/3 inch thick and set aside; you’ll be making croutons with those in a moment. Cut the remaining bread into rough cubes and add them to the pot.
- Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the tomatoes and bread are very soft, about 30 minutes.
- Add a few dashes of hot sauce, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Toast the reserved slices of bread and, while still warm, rub both sides with the cut side of the halved garlic clove. Dice into croutons.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with black pepper, top with croutons, and sprinkle with tarragon. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Clotilde Dusoulier
Clotilde Dusoulier is the creator of the award-winning food blog ChocolateAndZucchini.com and the author of the cookbook “Chocolate & Zucchini” and the guidebook “Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris.” She lives in Paris, France. (Photo credit: Beatriz de Costa.)